Oct 21, 2017
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Article 48 – Religion and Beef Ban?

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Article 48 – cow slaughter

The article below, aims to give a deeper understanding with reference to Article 48, slaughter of cows and the influence of religion on it, if any.

Article 48 of the Constitution of India, 1949 reads as under:

Organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry: ”The State shall endeavor to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”
Article 48 comes under Part IV of the Constitution of India, dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). The DPSP are guiding principles and not enforceable by law.
DPSPs are classified into three categories:
  1. Socialist,
  2. liberal individualism, and
  3. Gandhian philosophy.

Article 48, comes under the classification of the Gandhian philosophy. One aspect of the Ghandian philosophy gives recognition towards the upliftment of rural villages and its people.

What does this mean?

How does one interpret  Article 48, does it have anything to do with religion?

Excerpts from the Constituent Assembly debate shows, that the main significance of Article 48 was purely to boost the  agrarian economy, thereby uplifting animal husbandry in the rural villages.

The Directive Principles of State Policy, were made at a time, when India was a third world economy and yet emerging from colonial atrocities it faced. There was a need to boost the agrarian economy, thus, the makers of the constitution wanted to prevent economic harm caused due to the slaughtering of cows. The thought draws significance from the fact of boosting the agrarian economy, i.e. production and distribution of milk and dairy products.

Thus, the article mentions ”…..improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle

The article doesn’t specifically mention ”only cows”, but includes calves, other milch, and draught cattle.

Logically, the consideration was to not to specifically prohibit the killing of cows alone, but also the killing of calves, and other milch animals (milk producing animals) that play a synonymous role in contributing to the production of milk and milk products, thereby, boosting the agrarian economy.

Moreover, one should know that, religious considerations were kept at an arm’s length while formulating this Article. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the State of Gujarat v. Moti Qureshi Kassab interpreted Artilce 48  in consonance with Article 51A(g) of the Constitution (Article 51A(g) being protection and improvement of Natural Environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for all living creatures), thereby justifying it’s decision on a complete ban on bovine slaughter.

However, Article 48, still maintains it’s ground on prevention of cattle and cow slaughter purely for economic and constitutional reasons. Thereby negating any chance of religious influence with Article 48 or the issue of beef ban.








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